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BOLCOM, William

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BOLCOM, William
William Bolcom

Composer/pianist WILLIAM BOLCOM was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1938. Exhibiting musical talent while still very young, he began (at age 11) private composition studies with John Verrall and piano lessons with Berthe Poncy Jacobson at the University of Washington. He continued to perform extensively in the Seattle area and throughout the Northwest.

Bolcom earned his B.A. from the University of Washington in 1958, studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College in California and at the Paris Conservatoire de Musique, and earned a doctorate in composition in 1964 from Stanford University, where he worked with Leland Smith. Returning to the Paris Conservatoire, he won the 2e Prix in Composition in 1965. While in Europe he began writing stage scores for theaters in West Germany, continuing at Stanford University, in Memphis, Tennessee, at Lincoln Center/New York, and the Yale Repertory Theater.

Various awards throughout his career include:

a BMI award (1953), two Guggenheim fellowships (1965 and 1968), several Rockefeller Foundation awards, several NEA grants, the Marc Blitzstein Award (1966) from the Academy of Arts and Letters (for Dynamite Tonite, an opera for actors written with his long-time collaborator, Arnold Weinstein), two Koussevitzky Foundation Awards (1976 and 1993) for the First Piano Quartet and the Lyric Concerto for Flute and Orchestra - written for James Galway, the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano, the 1977 Henry Russel Award (the highest academic prize given by the University of Michigan) followed 20 years later by the prestigious Henry Russel Lectureship (awarded to a senior faculty member) in March 1997 at the U of M, the Michigan Council for the Arts Award the Governors Arts Award from the State of Michigan the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano, investiture in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1992, honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Albion College, and the New England Conservatory, and the New School University/New York the Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus Award from the University of Washington in 2003, the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Songs of Innocence and Of Experience.

Commissions have come from:

Orchestras: Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, Saint Paul, Saarbrucken (Germany), Vienna (Philharmonic), Baltimore, National/Washington, DC, Pacific Symphony, Boston, The MET Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra and from organizations: the American Music Theater Festival of Philadelphia, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, the Western Wind, Orpheus Chamber Players, Chamber Music Northwest, Aeolian Chamber Players, Carnegie Hall, Aspen Music Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Pacific Northwest Ballet and numerous soloists and chamber music organizations worldwide.


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